Chris Anderson, author of the book “Makers”, argues that the world becomes a more interesting place when the world of bits can be converted to the world of atoms. With the rise of “3D printers,” teachers, students, hackers, and makers can design 3d models and “print” them. The act of “printing” a “3d” model converts the digital file into a physical object. If you don’t have a 3D printer, don’t worry. You can outsource the job of 3D printing to various companies on the Internet. You can think of these companies as the “Kinko’s” or “OfficeDepot” for making 3D stuff. For many, the act of designing 3D stuff can be intimidating. Players of the game of Minecraft, however, do this all the time. In the game Minecraft, you can design complex 3D objects using an infinite bag of digital lego blocks.
Some brilliant guys from MIT have created a program that enables you to convert an object you created in MineCraft into a physical object. Check out “Minecraft.Print”! It’s awesome! I have tried to outline the major steps of this process.
How can you 3D print your Minecraft creations?
- Create a new world in creative mode called “minecraftprint”
- After the world is generated, create a cool object that you want to print. For the purpose of this tutorial, I will export an existing object from the world. (i.e. a small mountain)
- To select an object in the world, we will need to select a low point and a high point. This concept is easier to visualize in 2D.
- “Minecraft.print” uses markers to define our low point and high point. To select our mountain, we will need to place one marker at the base of the mountain. We will place the other marker at another high point. A marker is a stack of the following blocks: Diamond block, Gold Block, Iron Block. Please know that the order of the blocks is important. Make sure to select these items from your inventory.
- Build the low marker. For our tutorial, we are placing our marker at the base of our mountain.
- Build the high point marker. To capture our mountain, we need to pick a high point.
- We will need to install the following tools to get “Minecraft.print” running.
- python – (http://www.python.org/download/releases/2.7.3/)
- numpy – (http://sourceforge.net/projects/numpy/files/OldFiles/ or http://docs.scipy.org/doc/numpy/user/install.html)
- pyyaml – (http://pypi.python.org/pypi/PyYAML)
- Download “Minecraft.Print” from https://github.com/codys/minecraft.print . Click the “zip” download button. Please note that the following steps will need to be adjusted if you use another operating system. See the README file from “minecraft.print” for more details.
- Unzip the python script in “C:\mcprint.”
- Open a command window.
- Click the “start” menu.
- Select “run.”
- Enter “command.”
- Press “ok.”
- Enter the following commands:
- Cd c:\mcprint
- C:\python27\python run.py minecraftprint export
- You will need to adjust this command if python is not installed at c:\python27.
- What does this command do?
- [C:\python27\python Run.py] executes the “minecraft.print” process.
- In your future work, you can replace “minecraftprint” with the name of a level.
- “Export” refers to the name of the 3D model file that will be generated.
- At the end of this process, the script will produce an “export.stl” file. This file is ready for further edits or 3D printing. Don’t have a 3D printer? No problem. You can print your STL file using the following services
- Need more inspiration for what you can print? Visit http://www.minecraftprint.com/#gallery
So… what kind of game, toy, or device would you like to build using Minecraft and 3D printing? How can this be used in project based learning?